• Credit: Robert Ward - Staff Photographer - Asbury Park Press

A New Jersey state report says that less than 25% of the $1.8 billion awarded to the state by Congress for recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy has been distributed to residents in the state. The Newark Star-Ledger has this report ( "NJ has distributed less than 25 percent of Sandy aid," by Erin O'Neill).

"The Department of Housing and Urban Development ... allocated more than $1.8 billion to New Jersey in February 2013 and approved the state's plan for spending the money that April," the paper reports. "More than $416 million of that funding had been distributed by March 31, according to the state's report."

The New Jersey quarterly performance report, required by the Congressional grant, is posted here ( "January 1, 2014 thru March 31, 2014 Performance Report").

Besides the $1.8 billion already allocated to New Jersey, the federal government still has additional funds on tap for distribution, but some of that money is likely to go to other states. New Jersey and New York politicians are pressuring Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan to guarantee that the money, authorized by the Sandy relief bill, will all go to their states. But Donovan says he is required by the Sandy aid legislation to distribute money to other states. The New York Daily News has the story ( "New York and New Jersey's Sandy aid request nixed by official," by Dan Friedman).

"After weeks of pressure, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan held meetings Thursday with the New York and New Jersey delegations. Members said Donovan promised HUD will meet what he called "critical" recovery needs in both states before sending any Community Development Block Grant money to other states… But Donovan didn't define what critical meant," the paper reports. "He also rejected requests to ensure all the remaining money — for New York that's about $5 billion — go solely to Sandy recovery."

Meanwhile, damaged homes by the score sit abandoned in towns along the Jersey Shore, according to a report in the Asbury Park Press (see: "Sandy, sour economy leave Shore houses abandoned," by Brett Bodner).

"There's houses on our street that should be knocked down and they're still standing there," Ortley Beach resident Lisa Frankle told the paper. "I don't know what they're waiting for, but they're still there. I'm sure there's rodents and creatures that are living in them."

The federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program has awarded $15 million to help Jersey Shore towns identify abandoned structures and demolish them. At this point, towns aren't even sure how many houses they have to deal with, the Asbury Park Press reports. "Dan Newman, Brick Township code official, said there are about 300 abandoned properties in town, two-thirds of which are the result of superstorm Sandy," the paper reports. "In an effort to get a better grasp on the problem, the township is starting to develop an abandoned property list after evaluating each property by looking at code enforcement documents and storm damage and by finding out how long utilities have been shut off."